Your weekend: Holiday Hikes 

Pavilion and mill at Carvers Creek

First, a note that all North Carolina State Parks and most municipal and county parks are closed Christmas Day (Sunday). Thus, if you plan any park exploring, best get it in Saturday (or Friday!). That said … .

Coast | Coastal Plain

Got visiting kin who could use a bit of movement and wouldn’t mind learning about North Carolina history? Load ‘em in the car Saturday morning and head them down to Carvers Creek State Park near Spring Lake, for a 3-Mile History Hike, taking in the grist mill, pavilion, silos and other features of this property, once a farm owned by James Stillman Rockefeller.

Logistics: 3-Mile History Hike, Saturday, Dec. 24, 10 a.m., Carvers Creek State Park, Spring Lake. More info and sign up here.

Saturday forecast: Hi of 61 with a chance of rain.

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Looking ahead: Trail Games at Weymouth Woods, Sunday, Jan. 29, Weymouth Woods State Natural Area, Southern Pines. More info here.

Hiking the Bean Shoals area of Pilot Mountain


When we think of hiking at Pilot Mountain State Park, our thoughts typically turn to hiking the big kahuna, Pilot Mountain — Big Pinnacle, Little Pinnacle, Ledge Spring — itself. Great views, rocky outcrops, lots to see. Typically, we don’t think of the park’s lesser-visited Corridor and Bean Shoals sections to the south.

Last month, for the first time, we lead a hike in the Bean Shoals area and were surprised by its diversity and beauty. It was also hillier than we expected, being so close to the Yadkin River. In short, a great hike. And one you can explore Saturday morning in the company of a park ranger.

Logistics: Bean Shoals Canal Hike, Sautrday, Dec. 24, 10 a.m., Pilot Mountain State Park / Bean Shoals Access. More info here.

Saturday forecast: Hi if 51, it might be wet.

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Looking ahead: Holiday Sing-A-Long: yuletide faves our forefathers/mothers/sister/brothers might have sung, Monday, Dec. 26, 4:30 p.m., Eno River State Park. More info here.

Grandfather’s profile


Apparently, Grandfather Mountain State Park didn’t get the memo: they’ll hold their annual Christmas Day Photo Scavenger Hunt Sunday from 3-5 p.m. Here’s how it works: you get a list of 12 items to shoot, the folks who shoot the most qualify for cool prizes (including a first prize of a $50 gift card, a tent and a one-night camping pass to the N.C. state park of your choice). Read more about the contest here.

It’s a great opportunity to get out on Christmas, a great opportunity to try out any new photography devices Santa may have brought, a great opportunity, period.

Logistics: Christmas Day Photo Scavenger Hunt, Sunday, Dec. 25, 3-5 p.m., Grandfather Mountain State Park/Profile Trail Parking area off NC 105 in Banner Elk. More info here.

Sunday forecast: Cloudy, high of 52.

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Looking ahead: The forecast calls for snow and cold going into next weekend, suggesting it could be a great time to go skiing. Keep tabs on the latest conditions at


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Those are our thoughts on the weekend. Find more options at the sources listed below. 

Comprehensive calendar for the Cape Fear/Wilmington/southern N.C. coast searchable by date and event name.

Coastal Guide
Comprehensive calendar including nature programs from a variety of coastal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs. Covers the entire coast.

Crystal Cost Tourism Authority
Comprehensive calendar focusing on the Crystal Coast. Good source for programs offered by N.C. Coastal Federation, Cape Lookout National Park, N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve and other costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs.
Comprehensive calendar including programs for the Outer Banks and Crystal Coast.

North Carolina Coast Host
Comprehensive calendar for the entire coast that lets you search for events by day, by region, by county, by city or by event (based on key word).

This Week Magazine
Primary focus is the Crystal Coast (North Carolina’s coastal midsection).


Asheville Citizen-Times
From the main page, click on “Outdoors,” then WNC Outdoors calendar.

Blue Ridge Outdoors
Searchable calendar lets you extend your reach to events throughout the mid-Atlantic and Southeast (or you can just limit it to North Carolina). Also lets you search a boatload of categories, ranging from Hiking, Mountain Biking and Climbing to Trail Running, Triathlon and Road Walking.

The Mountain Times
From the main page, click on “Calendars,” then Main Events.

Todd’s Calendar



Charlotte Observer events calendar
Comprehensive calendar searchable by category, including Nature, Recreation, Recreation & Wellness, Running

Charlotte Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Comprehensive calendar includes a Sports & Recreation category.

Piedmont Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Comprehensive calendar searchable by category, including: Birding, Boating, Cycling, Nature, Rec & Wellness, Recreation, Running, Swimming, Tennis, Yoga.

Carolina Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.


Great Outdoor Provision Co. 
Calendar includes three weekly events for each of its seven markets: Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville, Raleigh, Wilmington and Winston-Salem. Search by market.

Office of Environmental Education
One calendar for the numerous Environmental Education Centers statewide.

North Carolina State Parks
Lets you search for programs at the state’s parks, recreation areas and natural areas by location, by month, by topic. To reach the calendar from the home page, click on “Education,” then “Fun & Free Programs at Parks.”

National Forests in North Carolina
From the home page, click on Carolina Connections for news updates on the state’s four national forests as well as hints on recreational opportunities and a detailed rundown of recreation areas and the amenities at each.

U.S. National Wildlife Refuges
Rundown, by month, of regular activities at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refuges in North Carolina.

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